When Apple announced SharePlay at WWDC, I was less blown away by the ability to experience a movie, TV show, or song with friends and much more interested in the screen sharing it enables.
As well-implemented as the shared entertainment experience looks, it feels like a feature that just missed the boat in most parts of the world. With COVID regulations relaxing in many places (I'll let you decide whether or not that's the right call for your region), I expect many folks will be spending less time apart from each other, remaining indoors, and staying in touch via screens.
Though downplayed by Apple, screen sharing has been something sorely missing from FaceTime for years at this point. Competing services like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, Teams, and Slack, have long since had this feature, making them go-to tools for productivity and tech support.
Screen sharing has been available on the Mac for some time, too, but it's hidden away and only works on the Mac, not your other Apple devices (unless you want to get convoluted with QuickTime).
Apple isn't really pitching SharePlay's screen sharing capability as a tech support tool, but I think that's where most of its utility will lie. Whereas Apple is expecting people will "browse apartment listings, swipe through a photo album, or plan your next vacation as a group," I expect I (and maybe you) will use the feature mainly to troubleshoot a family member's Apple device remotely.
As the person that is into tech, I'm the general tech support guru for my friends and family (and, by extension, all of their friends too). I'm sure plenty of iMore readers will relate.
No matter whether your non-tech-savvy family members are using the best iPhone and iPad models or not, they are going to run into some problems at some point and turn to you for support. If you're not in the same room as them, you can't just fix it for them and not being able to see what they are describing makes it a lot more difficult to diagnose and resolve their problem.
With SharePlay's screen sharing, you'll be able to see your friend or relative's screen in real-time and have them show you the problem, guide them through the OS, and hopefully, get the problem resolved. For software troubleshooting, where a setting has been toggled by mistake, or they don't know how to achieve something on their device, this is a great way to work through it together remotely.
While Apple's site suggests SharePlay is all about shared media experiences, its SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, gave the tech support use case a nod during the WWDC keynote: "Screen sharing is also a simple and super effective way to help someone out and answer questions right in the moment, and it works across Apple devices."
Of course, Apple isn't going to pitch one of its marquee new iOS 15 features as a troubleshooting method (its products are perfect and always work flawlessly, after all). But I'm sure Apple employees are also the go-to tech support folks for their own friends and families, so they'll know the struggle of trying to help out remotely, shown by Federighi's one-liner acknowledgment.
What do you think? Do you think SharePlay will prove useful for remote tech support? Let us know in the comments.
Adam Oram is a Senior Writer at iMore. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as an Apple Genius and as a Deals Editor at Thrifter. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food. Follow him on Twitter at @adamoram.
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